Building a Competitive U.S. Workforce

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Program Director, National Science Foundation

Federal Government and Public Affairs, Micron Technology

Director, Workforce Policy and Government Relations, Intel Corporation

Program Director, National Science Foundation


National Intelligence Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Introductory Remarks

Vice President for National Program and Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

Panelists discuss the increasing demand for technical talent in the current age of automation, how to foster a competitive workforce, and resources available to state and local governments through the CHIPS and Science Act.


FASKIANOS: Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations State and Local Officials Webinar. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president for the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. We’re delighted to have participants from forty-nine states and U.S. territories for today’s conversation, which is on the record.

CFR is an independent and nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, publisher, and educational institution focusing on U.S. foreign and domestic policy. CFR is also the publisher of Foreign Affairs magazine. And as always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Through our State and Local Officials Initiative, CFR serves as a resource on international issues affecting the priorities and agendas of state and local governments by providing analysis on a wide range of policy topics.

For today’s discussion, we are going to be talking about “Building a Competitive U.S. Workforce,” and we have an amazing panel of speakers today.

Bo Machayo is the director of U.S. government and public affairs at Micron Technology. He has a decade of experience as a public policy and public engagement advisor the local, state, and federal levels of U.S. government, and has had a number of positions including in the office of Virginia Senator Mark Warner, Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors, and in the Obama administration.

David Shahoulian is the director of workforce policy and government affairs at Intel Corporation. Previously, he worked at the Department of Homeland Security on border and immigration policy. He’s also served on the House Judiciary Committee for over ten years.

Dr. Rebecca Shearman is the program director for technology innovation and partnerships at the National Science Foundation. Previously, she was an assistant professor in the biology department at Framingham State University and holds a Ph.D. in evolution and developmental biology from the University of Chicago.

We also will be joined by Abi Ilumoka, who currently serves as a program director for engineering education in the Division of Undergraduate Education at NSF. And prior to that, she was a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

And finally, I’m happy to introduce Sherry Van Sloun, who is the national intelligence fellow at CFR. Previously, she served as a deputy assistant director of national intelligence for human capital at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for nine years. And she’s also held various positions with the National Security Agency and served in the U.S. Army as a signals analyst for eight years. Sherry is going to be moderating this conversation. She brought this great panel together, and can talk a little bit about her research, and basically the provisions for state and local governments and the CHIPS and Science Act.

We will then open it up for questions and turn to all of you. Again, this is a forum where we can share best practices. So we do want to hear from you. You can either write your question or raise your hand when we get there. So, Sherry, over to you to take it away.

VAN SLOUN: Thanks so much, Irina. And thanks to you and your staff for putting this webinar together. I really feel lucky to be here today. I want to say thanks to Becky, Bo, David, and Abi for being here as well. I know your schedules are busy, so we really appreciate you taking the time out of your day. And then I want to thank all of you who joined today. I think it’s great to have all of us here to talk about this important topic.

So a little context. My last few assignments in the intelligence community revolved around building talent pipelines to meet the emerging demands of intelligence work. So my time here at CFR, I’ve spent some time looking into the implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act, specifically the human capital aspect of the act. My focus has really been around the need to build semiconductor manufacturing talent but, to be clear, the CHIPS and Science Act covers many other STEM workforce advancements and future technologies, from AI, to biotechnology, to quantum computing.

So today, we have Becky and Abi here from NSF to share about the broader reach the CHIPS and Science Act gave the NSF regarding cultivating workforce, and then Bo and David to dive into some of the semiconductor manufacturing perspective around talent. So looking forward to this. And I think we’re going to kick it off with going to Becky and Abi at the NSF. Let me start here, and say the NSF has been involved in promoting science for many decades. It’s been active in supporting workforce development through your directorate of STEM education. And what the CHIPS Act legislation did was create the director of technology, innovation, and partnerships.

And one of those new programs under that new directorate is the Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies, which is the ExLENT program. Which I think, Becky, you helped to create that program. So we’re glad you’re here. So can one of you share how the ExLENT program works, the timelines you’ve laid out, and the impact you’re hoping to see over time? And then specifically maybe you could focus a little bit for a minute on the semiconductor workforce specifically, and how the ExLENT program will help to build this much-needed body of talent for the U.S.

SHEARMAN: Sure, Sherry, happy to jump in. You’re correct, I was involved in the development of the ExLENT program. And we are super excited about it. So TIP is—which is the acronym of our new directorate—just celebrated its first birthday very end of the spring. And we’re really in just our first funding cycle of ExLENT. So you read out the full acronym, right? So this is really centered around experiential learning. And we’re named emerging and novel technologies. So emerging technologies really are those technologies that we—you know, we point to the CHIPS and Science Act and say that’s, you know, what we’re interested in funding. But we did keep it kind of open.

So, novel technologies, right? We are kind of allowing the community to tell us, look, this may not fall precisely in the line of these emerging technologies, but we need to be building a workforce that can do X, Y, and Z. And we specifically developed this program with a few things in mind. We need to build a workforce that is nimble in its ability to get training as expertise evolves, as our technologies evolve. And we’ve got to engage all Americans in the STEM enterprise, if they’re interested in being in the STEM enterprise. For us to be really competitive, everyone needs to have access to a good STEM education. And then we also built it around the fact that we felt like we really need to be bringing organizations across different sectors together to do this correctly, right? We need to have those experts in education, but we also need to have those industry partners who understand the needs of the industry and the needs of a specific company.

So the program is really designed to address those things. It’s very broad. So we allow the applicant—who can be from academia, they can be from the private sector, they can be nonprofits, we’re really trying to reach everybody here. They can say: This is the population we’re trying to reach. So maybe it’s, you know, middle school/high school students. Maybe it’s adult learners at any point in their educational career, and trying to get them hands-on experience that’s going to give them some credential, expose them to something so that they, if they choose, can kind of be on that educational path towards a good-paying job in an emerging tech field. And of course, the semiconductor industry is central to that, right? We don’t have a specific call-out to semiconductors, but we highlight it as one of the emerging technologies.

VAN SLOUN: And Becky, thank you. So can you share a little bit more with the audience about, like, how they would go about engaging with you on a proposal? What is the process that folks do there? I know you have calls, but can you explain that a little bit about how a call goes out and then what that looks like once it closes?

SHEARMAN: Absolutely. So we have a solicitation out. And if I’m allowed to drop something into the chat, I’m happy to share the link and you can go right to it. And there’s—we have deadlines. In fact, our next deadline is September 14. So if anyone’s really interested and has nothing to do in the next month, you can take a look at the solicitation and consider applying for the program.

It outlines—the solicitation will outline everything you need to do but, basically, you’re writing up a proposal, submitting it through our standard process at NSF through a site called research.gov. And then your proposal goes through a merit review process, where we bring in experts from the community that will include people with the expertise in education, expertise in industry. You know, we try to have a very broad cross-sector expertise represented on that panel. And they review all the proposals and give us recommendations and feedback around where we should make our funding decisions.

The best thing to do if you go to that solicitation, there are links on that first page to an inbox and to program officers that you can reach out to. A good place to start is just reaching out to them and trying to connect, and have an initial conversation.

VAN SLOUN: Thank you. And if I recall, your first grant announcement will be announced soon, right?

SHEARMAN: Very soon.

VAN SLOUN: And then the call in September will be announced later this year or early next year. Super. OK. Thank you very much, Becky.

Bo, let’s move to you and, you know, really kind of diving into semiconductors specifically. You know, your role allows you to see kind of across Micron and how it’s working with partners to build the talent pipeline that you all need for your existing locations and where you’re also expanding at new locations across the country. Can you share a little bit about how Micron has responded to the passing of the CHIPS Act legislation, specifically here in New York? And how you’re tracking that talent pipeline gaps at all levels of the manufacturing lifecycle?

MACHAYO: Yeah. Thanks, Sherry, for that question. And it’s great to be a part of this discussion. Per, you know, your conversation, we’re happy at Micron. Thanks to the CHIPS and Science Act and also thanks to the incentives from the, you know, states and localities, we were able to make investments of, you know, in New York, of $100 billion over the course of the next couple of decades. And a big part of that is around how we can address the talent pipeline needs. You know, we’ll have 9,000 direct jobs and over 40,000 indirect jobs due to economic activity that will happen in the central New York region. But we know that all those—you know, that talent won’t be able to come directly from central New York. It will have to be a whole of New York approach, but also a regional approach across the northeast.

And so specifically in New York, we’ve, you know, been able to, you know, establish partnerships from what we’re calling the K through gray level, really making sure that from K-12 we’re doing interactive activities and sponsoring what we call chip camps, that are unique to Micron and we’re able to make sure that we are, you know, engaging young K through eight, you know, students to be able to really understand the jobs that are available in semiconductor industry. Another thing that we’re doing specifically in New York is really working on kind of both curriculum development and how we can partner with schools. As a part of our announcement, we made a commitment to doing $10 million into the steam school, which is a local initiative that will focus on both career—or, both technical kind of education, but also kind of an engineering pathway to assure that, you know, we can get students interested in the semiconductor industry early on.

We’re also—you know, have half of those jobs are going to be technician jobs, and the other half will be engineering jobs. So how we’re partnering with, you know, local building trades unions through our PLA to make sure that we’re educating folks, establishing certificate programs so that we can make sure that folks who are looking to transition to the semiconductor industry, thanks to the investment that we’re making there, how can folks be part of the Micron experience? And then also, how are we doing that with community colleges and also higher ed institutions, as well?

And so we partnered with the SUNY system in New York, and also the CUNY system in New York to make sure that we’re building the pipeline from a community college there. Particularly investing in creating clean rooms at Onondaga Community College and then utilizing the existing clean rooms across the state. We also established a couple of regional networks for New York, especially the Northeast University Semiconductor Network, to really make sure that we’re taking, you know, what individual community colleges and higher ed institutions have to be able to make sure that we’re addressing those gaps.

You know, that is—these are kind of examples of ways. And as a matter of fact, earlier this week when I was in central New York we also are able to partner with the local museum, a science and technology museum in central New York, to create a semiconductor exhibit so that kids from K-12 can actually be able to understand what a semiconductor is, what a memory chip is, and multiple different ways and avenues to be able to attract talent to be able to come and to meet the gaps that we have throughout the semiconductor industry. And so those are just a couple of ways in which we’re looking to build partners and to address some of the needs that we’ll have in New York.

VAN SLOUN: Thanks, Bo. That’s fantastic.

David, I’m going to turn to you now. I just got back from Portland, Oregon last week, where I was able to get a tour of Intel’s fab and their innovation center. And it was really incredible to see firsthand the different kinds of talent needed to make this industry possible. Can you share a little bit about the makeup of Intel’s workforce? I think many people will be surprised that the bulk of it really isn’t Ph.Ds., but how you’re building efforts for a talent pipeline needed for your major investment in Ohio, specifically. I know it was a huge one for you guys. I know, the Ohio State University is kind of the hub of that consortium there, but—which makes me very proud. I’m a Buckeye. But can you talk a little bit about that and what’s happening there?

SHAHOULIAN: Sure. Happy to do that. So, first of all, thank you for having me. It is a pleasure to be here. Second, like Bo mentioned, you know, we’re excited about the opportunity the CHIPS and Science Act provides. And, you know, because of that, and the incentives that we’re getting from the federal government and the state governments, you know, we are right now building—expanding all of our sites, and building a new greenfield site in Ohio.

So yes—on your first question, yes. People are generally surprised to hear about the makeup of our manufacturing workforce. Let me just—to just give it—summarize it really quickly, right, each of our fabs is generally around 1,500 positions that we create for that fab. About 60 to 70 percent of those jobs are for semiconductor technicians. These are individuals that can have an associate’s degree, but in some cases we don’t even require that. A certificate would do. And in some cases, you know, we hire people with even less than that to be technicians.

These are people that oversee and troubleshoot the manufacturing process and then all of the support systems, like the electrical, water, gas, and air filtration systems that, you know, support manufacturing operations. So that’s, like—that’s the bulk of the jobs that we will be creating with our new factories. The other—the remainder is about 20 to 25 percent, you know, individuals with bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering, computer science. And then it’s about, you know, somewhere between 5 and 10 percent individuals with advanced degrees. I will just want to say—just add a little caveat for Oregon, right? Because Oregon is a location where we do manufacture, but we also develop our manufacturing technology, there we do—you know, there is a higher ratio of Ph.Ds. So there, you know, there are more advanced degree folks.

Second, with respect to Ohio, we’re very excited about the work that we’re doing there. One of the reasons we chose Ohio as a site was because of the great educational system that already existed there and their history with advanced manufacturing. When we announced that we were going to be building there, we immediately committed $50 million into, sort of, you know, expanding that education ecosystem that already exists. And that’s, you know, modernizing the curricula, creating modules that are semiconductor specific, providing semiconductor manufacturing equipment, helping build clean rooms. These are all the things that are necessary to train individuals and give them, you know, hands-on training in our industry.

We’ve already awarded 17.7 million dollars of that. That has gone to eight collaborations involving almost 80 schools across the entire state of Ohio. We’re really proud of that effort. One of them—just to give you two examples—one of them is being led by Columbus State Community College. They’re working with every other community college system in the state of Ohio to create semiconductor technician curricula with shared credits, right, that can be shared across all of the different institutions. There’s another one that’s being led by the Ohio State University, I should have said, The Ohio State University. Forgive me for that. Right, they’re partnering with nine other universities to create an education and research center for the semiconductor industry to lead on innovation and education. So, you know, these are the—of course, the things that are necessary, you know, to create the education ecosystem that will help not only us but our suppliers, and then other semiconductor companies across the country.

VAN SLOUN: So do you—thanks, David. Do you think that what you’re doing in Ohio, you’ve got quite the consortium, like you’ve just talked about. Is that going to be enough to be able to source the talent pipeline for that fab and the outlying things that are going to happen around that fab in Ohio? Or is there a way that other—that you’re going to reach into other areas, like Bo mentioned a regional approach, to that space in Ohio?

SHAHOULIAN: Yeah, so that is—you know, that is a regional approach, in the sense that we’ve reached out to all of Ohio. We are also—we also have interest from other universities in the rest—you know, the remainder of the region. Purdue, Michigan, you know, other universities in the Midwest. You know, what we’ve asked is for them to help partner with the Ohio universities, and, you know, working on trying to build those partnerships and those collaborations.

You know, we’ve also, you know, collaborated with NSF, right? So, you know, when NSF got $200 million to build out the education ecosystem, you know, we know Micron partnered and put some money on the table. We did as well. You know, we matched 50 million dollars in funding to create $100 million partnership with NSF to sort of also bring those opportunities nationwide to any school, not just ones where we’re operating. So NSF has already rolled out two programs with that funding. And, you know, we anticipate they will be rolling out more this year. And, you know, schools anywhere in the country will be able to apply for that funding.

VAN SLOUN: That’s fantastic. Thank you very much, David. That’s very helpful, I think, for the audience today.

Becky, if we could come back to your or Abi, it seems to me that the U.S. wants to be a leader in this industry, for semiconductors specifically. It’s going to take a village, right? I mean, how do we best prepare the partnerships between private sector, academia, and community organizations to really find ways to bring exposure to this kind of work? I know Micron and Intel are doing their great work, but is there anything that NSF is doing kind of to get this message out and get excitement built around this industry?

SHEARMAN: So I’ll start, but then I really do want to invite Abi to join me and add anything she may have. She sits in a different place than I do at NSF. I can at least speak from the from TIPs directorate. I know we’ve been doing a lot. So TIP stands for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. And we are very much interested in really trying to move emerging tech innovations into practice kind of at speed, at scale. And a big part of that includes making sure we’re thinking about the workforce needed to do that successfully, right? And so everything that’s coming out of TIP is really emphasizing these partnerships.

So even when it comes to workforce development, we feel like we’re not going to be able to do this well unless we’re really engaging all the people who bring some sort of expertise to it. And I think when you listen to David and Bo talk about what they’re doing, right, they’re talking about doing this in partnership, in collaboration. And you know, the ExLENT program in particular is—so, I guess, let me start by saying I just—with TIP being a new directorate and all the attention that has brought, we’re trying to bring these different sectors who maybe aren’t used to talking with each other into the same room. And all of our programs that are coming out are doing that, and ExLENT is no exception there.

And we are trying to get the community thinking beyond—although, you know, Intel and Micron are absolutely central to the success—but we’re trying to get the—as is, you know, The Ohio State. But we also recognize that if we want to educate the domestic workforce, there’s a lot of other organizations that could bring real value. So we are being very intentional about reaching out to community organizations, to nonprofits that are thinking a lot about reaching specific communities to get folks who would never consider themselves someone who would be in this space, have a job, you know, in a in a semiconductor manufacturing plant, working for Intel, right? It just—it wouldn’t occur to them that that’s something that they would do.

We’re trying to create those pathways to reach out and give them some initial exposure and bring them into the fold so the opportunities are there for them, if they want them. And we’re also including those industry partners and the large universities, but we think that the more different perspectives we can get together in a room the better we’re going to be able to diversify the pathways and reduce the barriers to those jobs. And that’s what ExLENT is really trying to do. And, like I said, I’d love to—I’d love to give Abi an opportunity to share anything from her perspective at NSF, if she wants.

ILUMOKA: Thank you, Rebecca. I agree. I agree with everything Rebecca has said. What I would like to add is that in addition to ensuring that the content is being provided, and experiential learning is being provided to students across the spectrum of academic levels, we in the education directorate are focused on ensuring that evidence-based teaching and learning practices are brought into the classrooms. We want to ensure that the right environments are available to students, the right kinds of support for learning, right kinds of assessment.

And so we have partnered with TIP on some innovative opportunities, known as DCLs, dear colleague letters. These are opportunities that bring together programs in the education directorate and programs in the TIP directorate to fund investigators that are focused on not just teaching, in the case of semiconductors, how to design chips, but also how to teach the design of chips. I taught the design of chips for twenty years before I joined NSF, so I know exactly how challenging that is. You know, designing structures that you can’t see, essentially, and you’re having to refine and redesign to ensure that they work—to test and ensure that they work. And so in the education directorate, we have held a number of events to get the public excited about chip design, and chip design education.

In May, we had a workshop to which we invited folks in academia, all the way from universities to kindergarten. And we had a wonderful attendance. Over three hundred people showed up for the workshop. It was a two-day workshop. And folks were invited to brainstorm on how to teach microelectronics at all levels. So a lot of interesting information came out of that. We had participants from industry, Intel, Micron, and so forth. We had participants from government and from academia. So that was a very successful event. We have a second webinar on the eighth of August along the same lines.

So we have currently two DCLs. And I’ll put the links in the chat, dear colleague letters. One is called Advancing Microelectronics Education, which looks at ways in which you can actually teach this stuff to folks who don’t have the extensive math, and physics, and chemistry background. The second thing we’re doing is making sure that we integrate these opportunities with existing programs in the education directorate. For example, the IUSE program is Improving Undergraduate STEM Education. It is a well-established program in the directorate, and it looks at innovations for teaching and learning in STEM in general. Now, by bringing this program into play with the ExLENT program, then we attract investigators that have an interest not just in the content, the chip design, but also in how to teach the chip design.

Now, that confluence brings up very exciting, very interesting proposals on ways in which you can present this material to folks who are not experts at all, or are not in the domain. So I hope that answers your question on how to get folks excited. We have a couple of workshops and webinars scheduled going forward that will draw in participants from all over the country. And we generally keep pretty good notes on what goes on at those workshops, the kinds of questions, the kinds of ideas that are shared, and move forward on those to help the community grow.

VAN SLOUN: Abi, that’s fantastic. Thank you very much. It’s really helpful. If you could put those things in—the links in the chat, that would be fantastic for the folks listening in today.

Irina, it’s 3:30. Do you want me to turn this over to you for Q&A?

FASKIANOS: Yes, I think that would be great. Let’s go to all of you now for questions. You can either write your question in the Q&A box. If you do that, please include your affiliation. Or you can raise your hand, and I’ll recognize you, and then you can ask your question. And don’t be shy. We really want to hear from you. Right now, we have no questions, which I think people are just collecting their thoughts. So Sherry, if you have one—another question while people are thinking about what they want to ask.

VAN SLOUN: I’m actually—oh, ahead.

FASKIANOS: We do have one question. Raised hand from Usha Reddi. And if you could identify yourself and unmute yourself. And you’re still muted. There you go.

Q: Thank you. So my name is—I’m from Kansas. I’m Senator Usha Reddi, but I’m also a public school teacher, elementary school. And I also am part of several nonprofits which advocate for STEM learning, especially for young women and girls.

So I wanted to know, can anybody apply for these NSF grants? And do you have to be a doctorate or affiliated with a university? Can it be a teacher? Can it be a nonprofit organization? Who is eligible for these types of grants?

SHEARMAN: Sure. Can I just jump in?

VAN SLOUN: Yeah, please do Becky.

SHEARMAN: OK. So that is a great question. I’m so glad that you asked that. So I guess in reality it depends. NSF historically, you know, makes grants to academic institutions. We are trying to change that quite a bit. So for a lot of our—for a lot of our funding opportunities you can be something other than an academic institution to submit. But you would have to look at the eligibility, right? So some are some types of organizations are not eligible. For example, the federal government can’t apply for an NSF grant, right? But nonprofits, some local government offices, if they’re related to education, can apply for these for these funding opportunities. So those opportunities definitely exist. And if there’s a program that you’re specifically interested in, I would encourage you to reach out to a program officer associated with that program. And if you can sort of Google the program if you happen to know it—if you’re familiar with the program, it’ll direct you to a contact.

FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Let’s go next to the raised hand from Mayor Melissa Blaustein.

Q: Hi, everyone. Thanks for a great session. I really appreciate it.

And actually, Sherry, I was so happy to see—(inaudible)—intelligence. I’m coming to you from the Naval Postgraduate School. I’m a student at CHDS right now, the master’s program for local governments on homeland security.

And in that vein, I’m wondering—I’m from a smaller municipality. Sausalito is quite small, but very well known. And we don’t often think about the issues of how we can attract hiring for these types of industries, but I’d love to hear maybe from Bo and David a little bit about what you’re seeing smaller communities or policies do to attract these type of people, or perhaps if remote working is being qualified or considered for folks who want to pursue a career in chips and semiconductors. And any advice any of you have as well for smaller local governments to attract a conversation around this type of topic. Thanks again for your time. Really appreciate it.

VAN SLOUN: Bo, do you want to take that first? And then, David, if you want to chime in, that’d be great.

MACHAYO: Yeah, no, I think—so we are investing in, you know, Boise and in—Boise and in in central New York, and in Onondaga County, but in a small town called Clay. But one of the things that we have been—we had found successful, and I’ll focus on the New York model, was working with the state and the locality to come up with something called a Community Investment Framework. So it was a partnership between Micron, the state, and the locality to really look at how are we investing in things that the community needs. Everything from housing, to workforce, to childcare, and really kind of focusing on what those barriers to entry were, to ensure that folks could be able to work in the semiconductor network.

And then also using that as a model to say, what around—like, what will we be able to do similar to that model in Boise? And how do we make sure it’s a whole-of-state approach and also kind of a regional approach to invest in these barriers to entry to the semiconductor network? And how can Micron do—Micron play their role in that? And so in the—(inaudible)—in particular, we decided to invest $250 million of that $500 million over the—and then committed to raising the other 150 (million dollars). And the state put in 100 (million dollars), and the locality also put in some of those dollars to ensure that we meet those needs and those barriers. And to be able to make sure that over the course of the next couple of decades, as we implement our project, that we are providing and addressing—whether that’s a skills gap, or a barriers to workforce gap, or providing or investing in childcare or whatnot—to make sure that we’re able to attract talent from across the area.

And then also making sure to kind of work with our localities and other localities that are surrounding to make sure that we’re also partnering with them to do the exact same thing, and to replicate that model. And that’s something that we’ve found successful, is that just intentional partnership to make sure that we are kind of building up that next generation of workforce to have those skills that are necessary. But I’ll turn it over to David to talk a little bit about what Intel is doing.

SHAHOULIAN: Yeah, thanks, Bo. You know, I don’t want to speak for Micron. I assume this is also true. We sort of take a both-and approach to building up the education ecosystem in across the country, right? I mean, we have national partnerships. You know, like Micron, Intel partnered with NSF. We put in money, along with government money, to create, you know, grant opportunities for schools across the country to apply for if they, you know, wanted to get into the semiconductor space, or they wanted to, you know, up their game in that space. And then both companies, right, we also have regional partnerships, right? Particularly in the communities in which we, you know, build facilities, we dedicate a lot of our effort.

Partly because, you know, the reality is with technicians, you know, community colleges are only going to build technician programs for their communities if there are facilities nearby where their community members can work. You know, you don’t see community colleges far from semiconductor spaces actually bringing on semiconductor programs, you know, if there isn’t a job anywhere in in that area for the community members who go to that school. So that is—so that is why we worked really closely with the local community colleges in Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, now in Ohio, to build programs near the facilities.

That said, you know, we are happy to share their certificate programs, the curricula, the—you know, the associate degree program curricula with any community college that that wants to build that. You know, I’ll say we’re also partners with the American Semiconductor Academy, right? Which is, you know, along with the SEMI Foundation is working to try to build curricula that is shared across, you know, all universities so that, you know, again universities, and community colleges, and other educational institutions can basically start or upgrade their semiconductor-related curricula much more easily. So I just want to say that, you know, there are—there are both opportunities near where we are, and national opportunities as well.

FASKIANOS: Fantastic. So we have a written question from Shawn Neidorf. What is the career path for a person who comes in as a semiconductor processing technician? What does a career in semiconductors look like for a person with an associate’s or less education?

And then a related comment/question from Alison Hicks, who is the mayor of Mountain View, a Silicon Valley city and home of Google headquarters. The big thing I hear from constituents regarding barriers to jobs is getting a first job after getting an engineering degree. People tell me there are 100 more applicants for many, if not most, jobs, and they can barely even get interviews. They feel their resumes are being auto-screened out if they don’t have a degree from Stanford, Berkeley, et cetera. So they rarely make it even the first step of the hiring process, let alone getting a job. Can your programming do anything about that? I know engineers who give up and don’t even work in the field. They’re not just applying in the Bay Area. They’re applying throughout the United States.

So if you could speak to both of those, that would be great.

SHAHOULIAN: Bo, do you want me to go first, or do you want to do it?

MACHAYO: You can take it first.

SHAHOULIAN: You know, I’ll just go very quickly. So, first of all, you know, at least the engineers in the semiconductor space, particularly electrical engineers, I mean, that the unemployment rate for electrical engineers right now is, I think, at 1 percent. I mean, it is full employment. So we are desperate for talent. (Laughs.) So I’m happy to have a conversation offline. I don’t know whether the engineers you’re speaking to have semiconductor skills or not. But, you know, we have strategic partnerships with many universities across the country. And that goes from the MITs and Berkeleys of the world to, you know, the Arizona States and Oregon States, or, you know, an Ohio State now, where we have two—we have partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other MSIs to help build their engineering and computer science programs. And we hire directly from those, and we sponsor undergraduate research and things like that to really kind of build the talent pipeline.

I would just say, for technicians, I—you know, the technicians I’ve met love the job, right? It’s a different lifestyle than I think many other jobs, right? It’s like, basically, they do these rotating weeks where they do three days on four days off, or four days on three days off, so you got like three or four days in a row off, and then, you know, they work either 36 or, like, 40-some hours a week in those jobs. They are jobs that, you know, we have—you know, we’re not paying six-figure starting salaries, but we have lots of technicians who do earn, with an associate’s degree or even less, more than six—I mean, you know, over 100,000 (dollars) a year. And that’s just base salary. You know, with us you’re getting stock options, you’re getting annual and quarterly bonuses. So it is, again, a really good life. And we have people with, you know, high school diplomas who are earning over six figures—you know, who are earning six figures.

MACHAYO: Yeah so, you know, I’ll add to what David was saying. For us, in terms of what does a career look like, you have your technician pathways, you’ve got your engineering pathways. But, you know, holistically for us for to attract this next generation of talent and to also be able to get folks who are looking to transition from an industry and come to Micron, you know, we want to make sure that, you know, the jobs that are available at Micron, are skill-based. And so not necessarily looking at the levels of degrees of what folks have, but to be able to make sure that the skills can easily translate to work at Micron.

So for example, you know, we’ve been really successful in this with the veterans community, where we have about a two times higher national average in terms of hiring veterans than kind of other tech companies as well. And so being able to attract those folks, not only because they align with, you know, the skill set that we have, but also the values that Micron has and, you know, the values that are aligned throughout the entire semiconductor industry as well.

We also are able to utilize our existing footprint to be able to have folks have the opportunities at different fab locations across the U.S. A great thing that we’ll be able to do is having our, you know, fab in Manassas—in Manassas, Virginia, our R&D site and our new manufacturing fab in Idaho, and then also our four fabs that would be in New York. Having the ability for folks to go from site to site, and to be able to learn the different aspects, both from the kind of legacy fabs to the—to the leading edge as well, on both the R&D. And then also our international footprint as well. And so, we have that—you know, we are looking at this as an opportunity to be able to ensure that we, you know, allow more folks to be a part of the semiconductor industry, but also, you know, making sure that we’re—you know, as we create, you know, the 50,000 jobs in New York, the, you know, 17,000 jobs in in Idaho, looking at it from a regional approach.

You know, Intel will be making—has made announcements across the country as well. So have other folks in the semiconductor industry. And so we know it’s going to need to be an all-hands approach that we’ll be able—that, you know, we need to make—think about things as regional, both northwest and northeast, and, you know, making sure that we’re incorporating, you know, everyone to be able to be a part of this industry. And that’s going to be, you know, us working with localities like the ones you’re part of, and the institutions as well, to be able to make sure that we are attracting talent early on, and then also making sure that, you know, we’re addressing, and having, and equipping the skill sets necessary to come and work into the industry.

FASKIANOS: Fantastic. The next written question is from Gail Patterson-Gladney, Van Buren County commissioner in Michigan.

Where the materials come from for the semiconductors? Are they recycled after use? I do not know much about the semiconductor, but am willing to learn more. Where do I educate myself and community members about programs?

VAN SLOUN: Can we go to David for that? And we’ll start with David.

SHAHOULIAN: If I had the answers to those questions, I’d be happy to answer them. (Laughs.) I am the workforce policy lead. And so I don’t know about our materials, and I just—yeah. I’m happy to let Bo try to take it.

MACHAYO: (Laughs.) Yeah, so from a supplier standpoint, you know, there’s going to be materials suppliers, there’s going to be, you know, chemical suppliers that will be needed for the semiconductor industry to be successful. A huge part of that will be, you know, how successful are we going to be—the Microns, the Intels, the Samsungs, the TSMCs of the world, of making sure that we’re investing in building up these fabs that are needed to manufacture folks. And then ultimately the suppliers will need to be able to kind of co-locate around us, and also make sure that we’re equipping those talent—those folks that are going to be at, you know, all of our fabs. And we’ll need all of those suppliers, both chemical and material suppliers, to be effective.

And so, you know, those folks are constantly—I’ll speak for Micron, but I think this is probably true for Intel as well—will be at our fabs throughout the duration of our construction phases, and as we get chips out the doors. And are important to kind of continue to make sure that we have the leading-edge chips that are coming out of their facilities. So, you know, happy to—there’s a supplier page on Micron’s site that you’re more than—you’re more than welcome to visit to kind of learn about the suppliers. We’ve been doing webinars both kind of regionally and throughout the state as well, to be able to, you know, talk to folks about what’s going to be needed as we kind of implement our two projects, our two investments in the U.S.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take a question from Eno Mondesir, who is executive health officer in the health department in Brockton, Mass. If you can unmute yourself.

Q: Good afternoon. I am posing this question perhaps to Bo or to David, or anyone. I wonder if—how do you see AI affecting hiring human subjects? Maybe not now, but maybe two to five years down the road?

SHAHOULIAN: Is your question—sorry, you don’t mind, you know, is your question about AI in the hiring process when it comes to screening applicants, for example? Or do you mean AI, you know, potentially replacing—

Q: I mean replacing human labor force.

SHAHOULIAN: Yeah. Well, let me just say, I mean, I think all of the semiconductor companies see AI as a value-add, right? You know, these are very complex—you know, designing and manufacturing semiconductors is the most difficult human endeavor on the planet, or among them, right? I mean, it is the most complicated process there is. So to the—to the degree that AI can help us perfect chip designs, perfect software and coding that goes with those, you know, discover flaws, those things, you know, those are absolutely beneficial to the industry.

You know, at this point in time, we don’t foresee that, you know, really supplanting, you know—(laughs)—our employees, right? I mean, you need workers, again. You know, fabs, right—again, every factory, I just pointed out, creates at least 1,500 to 2,000 jobs. A lot of the work that’s done in the fab is already automated, right? You have robots that move the chips around. The lithography tools, you know, themselves—the etching tools, the chemical layering, you know, all of that happens basically automatically. The work is for, you know, people, right, that is all about maintaining that process, you know, troubleshooting, discovering flaws, tuning the machines. I mean, that work will continue, right? We’re not at a point where that work gets supplanted anytime soon. I don’t know if, Bo, you want to add anything.

VAN SLOUN: Bo, do you want to add anything to that?

MACHAYHO: Yeah, you know, I agree. I think the job—the economic impact and the jobs that we’ve relayed on the figures for our investments in both Boise and New York, we anticipate, you know, remain the same. And to make sure—and we know that, you know, AI is an important thing kind of moving forward in the semiconductor industry, and for Micron particularly. You know, memory chips are going to be important for AI, and in that conversation. But really believe and have seen, you know, throughout the globe the economic impact that’s been made from the investment of the semiconductor industry in terms of jobs, both direct and indirect jobs, and believe that would continue.

FASKIANOS: Great. So we have a written question—or, comment from David Di Gregorio, who’s an administrator at Tenafly High School, and also as a councilman in Englewood Cliffs. And he wants to work with you all. He’s responsible for engineering and design. So I will share his contact information with you all after this.

We have a written—or, sorry, a raised hand from Michael Semenza in the office of Representative Puppolo. If you want to go next, and unmute yourself. There you go.

Q: Hello. Good afternoon. Are you able to hear me?

FASKIANOS: We can hear you. Yes, we can. Go ahead.

Q: OK, great. I apologize. Would you be able to repeat the question real quick?

FASKIANOS: Oh, I thought you were asking a question. You had raised your hand?

Q: Oh, I don’t know how that happened. I’m sorry.

FASKIANOS: Oh, OK. No problem. That’s, you know, technology, it’s sometimes—we’ll go next to Senator Javier Loera Cervantes.

Q: Hello?

FASKIANOS: Yes, we can hear you.

Q: Hi, my name’s Anelli (ph). I’m actually the digital director representing Senator Javier Loera Cervantes from the state of Illinois.

First, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who did come out today, because I know this is a sort of the first step, and taking initiatives to our curriculums, to our districts. We did discuss a lot education. And I just had a quick question. Especially for New York and sort of your approaches to discussing with principals how to bring these initiatives to the schools, when you essentially decide which districts to sort of work with, what does that—what does that approach look like? Do you sort of target low-income communities? Ones that just kind of tend to work more vigilantly with your company? Or just sort of sort of what’s the approach that you take when you want to bring these initiatives and change of curriculums to the districts in New York?

MACHAYO: Yeah, so it’s been a kind of an all-hands approach. Obviously, we want to make sure that we are investing in the community in which we are going to be at, but know that especially in New York it’ll be a kind of an all-hands and all-state effort, both kind of central New York, where we’re located, downstate in the city, and then also in Albany, and Buffalo, and Rochester, and really an all-encompassing approach. And so, you know, we both work with the New York State Department of Education and local—our local K-12 superintendents and school systems to be able to make sure that we’re identifying and sharing exactly what is needed in terms of curriculum development, but also how are we spurring the interest of—to make sure that we’re getting a diverse set of employers and workforce, not only to be interested in the semiconductor industry and working directly for Micron, but also for the suppliers and the other indirect jobs that will be associated with Micron that are going to be important for Micron to thrive and succeed there.

And so it is working with kind of everyone, and identifying, in New York, you know, a handful of places right now that we can have a prototype. And knowing—and then expanding, and knowing, and understanding that this project is going to, you know, take a couple of decades to make sure that we’re—to make sure that we are implementing our project correctly, both kind of in in New York and then also in Boise. And so knowing that it’ll expand, and the partnerships will expand as well throughout the entire state.

VAN SLOUN: Irina, are there any more questions?

FASKIANOS: Yes. We have a question from Ernest Abrogar, who is the—let’s see, I have lost it—the research specialist at Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

How can suppliers to semiconductor manufacturers participate to provide educational or practicum opportunities to those areas that don’t have a major fab facility nearby?

VAN SLOUN: David, do you want to—do you want to take a first shot at that?

SHAHOULIAN: Sure. Look, I mean, we have suppliers in every state in the union, and the territories as well. So, you know, we partner with our suppliers in many different ways. You know, we work with suppliers, you know, to grow their businesses, to improve their practices, to, you know, ensure compliance, right? And we work with them also on workforce, you know, development strategies as well. You know, we do that. A lot of our suppliers are co-located or near located to our facilities, but a lot of them are not, I guess most are not. And so we are happy to partner them on these efforts.

Again, there are—you know, we’re happy to share, you know, the curriculum, the modules, the things that we have designed in partnership with the schools that have been our partners, right? We’re happy to share that with other educational institutions. So if there’s, you know, a curricula or something that you, you know, want to—you know, want to take or modify, you know, or expand on in Oklahoma, you know, we’re happy to assist with that.

VAN SLOUN: Great. Bo, you have anything to add?

MACHAYHO: Yeah, no, I’d share that too. I mean, I think anything that you—anything that you’re doing in Oklahoma, or any state in the country, if you’re focusing on, you know, education and investing in semiconductor education, if you are focusing on, you know, incentives for suppliers in certain states, and are looking to attract that part of the industry, I think, you know, we’d be happy to talk to you and figure out how we can kind of partner together in states—in states that we are currently investing in for the manufacturing side. But understand that, you know, we’ll need to also work with other states to make sure that we have the suppliers and their downstream suppliers that will be helpful for us to be successful.

FASKIANOS: So, we have one other question that just came in from council member Anita Barton.

Do either of your companies plan to get together with any universities in Penna?

SHAHOULIAN: Not sure. I understand that. Universities—say the last part?

FASKIANOS: Companies plan to get together with any universities in Penna. Maybe Pennsylvania? I’m not—

VAN SLOUN: I’m thinking that’s what it is, yeah.

FASKIANOS: Yeah, I’m thinking it’s probably Pennsylvania.

MACHAYO: So I can take that. I mean, we—so we launched our—along with the NSF director, and Senator Schumer, and our CEO, Sanjay, and, you know, some of our other leadership team, we were able to launch the Northeast University Semiconductor Network. And there are universities that are a part of that network that are based in Pennsylvania. And we are kind of—again, understand that it’s going to be a regional approach to be able to attract the semiconductor folks—or, the next generation of semiconductor workforce to work at Micron. And so happy to partner in that way as well. And we also just recently launched a northwest one as well to kind of do the same thing, look at states within our footprint region to be able to make sure that we’re attracting the workforce that’s needed.


VAN SLOUN: David—(inaudible)—on Pennsylvania, or?

SHAHOULIAN: You know, I know that we have been in some conversations with Pennsylvanian institutions. I cannot tell you right now which ones they are, because I have not been part of those conversations. But, you know, given our proximity—the proximity to Ohio, I know that in the western part of the state, there has been some interest. I would just say, again, we are participating with NSF in, you know, ensuring that there is funding available to, you know, schools nationwide.

VAN SLOUN: Thanks, David. So I think we only have a few minutes left. And I’m going to turn to Irina to close this out. But I just wanted to say thank you to, you know, Becky, David, Bo. You guys have been fantastic in sharing information that’s going to help, I think, across the entire United States thinking about semiconductors, and the need to build this pipeline and get excitement around this. And I’m really excited to hear about some of the programs you all have going on. So thank you so much.

Irinia, I’m going to turn to you to close us out here. But thank you for joining us.

FASKIANOS: Yes. And thank you all. This is a great hour discussion. We appreciate you taking the time, and for all the great comments and questions. We will be sending out links to the resources that were mentioned. And we will go back to Becky, David and Bo, and Sherry for anything else that they want to include, along with a link to the—this webinar and the transcript.

And as always, we encourage you to visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for more expertise and analysis. And you can also email [email protected] to let us know how CFR can support the important work that you are doing in your communities.

So thank you again for joining us today. We appreciate it.

VAN SLOUN: Thanks, everyone.

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